Tuesday, November 9, 2010
No day passes
No day passes in which I don’t feel the close proximity of death — not death as gentle advocate arrived as memory or clad in fallen leaves, but as dark messenger or physician. Often, I feel so near death that when I speak and write it’s as if I hear my voice from beyond the veil, or that I could pass from room to room through the intervening walls. Mostly, though, I tie my shoes and go outside to get the mail. The neighbor affirms my presence with her smile. Like anyone else, I have bills to pay and miles to go before I sleep. And so I tighten my belt, wash my hands, and put my best foot forward — knowing, all the while, that each step, each action, each foolish, arrogant remark, could be my last. There’s nothing grim about it. Certainly, I’m in no hurry to die. But I love knowing, even though at times it frightens me, that I could be gone one sweet breath from now.
My inevitable, possibly imminent demise is tied directly, I think, to my perception of beauty. Moments and things are beautiful in part because I don’t know if I will live to see or experience them again. And the beauty of death is, as familiar as they seem, no two things or moments are ever completely the same.
Now, it follows logically that everything I’ve said about death I can also say about life. For I do feel, alive as I am, that I can pass through walls as well as any spirit or ghost. Better still, I don’t even have to know it’s happening. Who’s to say that in some dim hour when I’m visited in clear detail by the memory of a place that I have been, that a vaporous part of me has not gone there at that very moment to see it once again — to see it and be sure; to listen and inhale; to rejoice in its sad and glad refrain?
Life as physician; life as messenger; life, which is a fleeting perception of beauty.
Mostly, though, I tie my shoes and go outside to get the mail. And when the wind blows, and the leaves come down, and I turn around to find the road behind me has already crumbled to dust, I know that I am home. And then I push on, my hand out, should someone seek it in this or any other realm.
No one suffers joy alone. The pain we feel belongs to everyone.
“No day passes” is my newest Notebook entry. Old notes are archived here.